Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families

by INMED Partnerships for Children, Inc.
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Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Food Gardens for Hungry South African Families
Gardener brings Seeds for Life to Graaf-Reinet
Gardener brings Seeds for Life to Graaf-Reinet

Dear Supporter of this Impactful Project:

It's amazing what happens when you plant a few seeds. If you care for them, they will grow! Thanks to you, our team at INMED South Africa is expanding Seeds for Life beyond Port Elizabeth to impoverished communities in neighboring Graaf-Reinet, Eastern Cape province.

The impetus for this expansion began with an aspiring gardener in the Kroonvale community of Graaff-Reinet, who encountered many challenges to his backyard farming efforts, such as water scarcity and his inability to afford seeds, compost and other inputs. He approached the INMED South Africa team for assistance after learning about our aquaponics projects at two local schools and INMED’s Seeds for Life project in Port Elizabeth.

After visiting the gardener and talking with his neighbors, our team saw an urgent need to help the community strengthen its food security during the COVID pandemic.

When African Bank learned of the need to expand Seeds for Life to Graaff-Reinet, its CSI and Environmental Sustainability Units saw a good fit for support. Teams from both of these Units are working with INMED South Africa to help extend the Seeds for Life program by identifying beneficiaries in low-resourced communities, who could benefit from this kind of program.

“The partnership with INMED is an opportunity to not only address social challenges, such as food security experienced in vulnerable communities, but also to enable us to support developing skills that support the green economy by creating innovative green agro-entrepreneurship opportunities and providing lifelong value to the very generation that holds the power to transition us into a more environmentally responsible nation,” said African Bank Sustainability Specialist Siphilile Shange.

A new aspect of Seeds for Life that will be piloted in Graaf-Reinet is the establishment of gardening skovels. Skovels are South Africa's version of a Rotating Savings and Credit Associations in which a group of typically a dozen individuals contribute an agreed-upon amount of money to a collective savings account. Skovel members take turns reaping the dividends. In the same vein, INMED's Seeds for Life skovels will encourage food gardening by providing skovel groups with free seasonal seeds, seedling trays, grow media, training and training material--with the added benefits of social support and interactions with neighbors who will share knowledge, inputs and harvests as their gardens flourish.

"The beauty of the program is that it is sustainable and can really change lives," says Dr. Sandra Pretorius, who coordinates the Seeds for Life project for INMED South Africa. 

As always, we thank you for your support and encourage you to consider becoming a recurring donor to scale the impact of this transformational project.

Wishing you good health and safety until our next update!

The INMED South Africa Team

Family receives resources & training to garden
Family receives resources & training to garden
Proud gardener shows off first beet harvest
Proud gardener shows off first beet harvest

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Koos' is getting bumper crops from adaptive garden
Koos' is getting bumper crops from adaptive garden

Did you know that 204 million people in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from malnutrition? 

At a time when increasing levels of economic crisis and severe climate events--now exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic--are pushing many vulnerable families in South Africa deeper into poverty and starvation, INMED South Africa launched an innovative Seeds for Life campaign to help struggling households plant home gardens. INMED’s Seeds for Life project has many potential long-term impacts, including improved physical and mental health, leading to a reduction in preventable lifestyle diseases, as well as financial savings.

The INMED South Africa team has nearly two decades of experience helping individuals, schools and communities implement adaptive agriculture projects to strengthen food security and build sustainable livelihoods in all types of environments. 

Home Gardens Reap Global Benefits

Globally, home gardens have been documented as an important supplemental source contributing to food and nutritional security and livelihoods. These gardens have persistently endured the test of time and continue to play an important role in providing food and income for the family.

INMED South Africa’s Seeds for Life project contributes directly to achieving many of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals by 2030--specifically the 2nd goal, "To end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture." Over the past three months, we have seen firsthand how our simple Seeds for Life project is achieving this goal and improving lives.

Stories Straight from the Garden

Koos lives in the Eastern Cape and is an enthusiastic gardener, but he faces many challenges, such as water scarcity and the inability to afford seeds, compost and other resources for a successful garden. After hearing about our Seeds for Life project, he approached members of the INMED South Africa team for assistance. Our expert gardeners visited Koos' home to discuss his food gardening needs. Together, they identified the best spot for his vegetable garden. The team also provided basic vegetable gardening advice and training, as well as compost and seeds. Koos eagerly set to work.

He reported that the tomatoes and cabbage have been a great success, but the beetroot, spinach and carrot seedlings were eaten by birds as they germinated. The garden pests and the quantity of water needed for irrigation (600 liters a month) remain the greatest challenges to realizing optimal production in Koos’ home garden. We are currently working with him on how to use grey water to mitigate the water shortage and cost.

Koos did note, however, that the seeds flourished in burlap grow bags we provided with vermicompost--a new adaptive agriculture technique for Koos. He said the foliage produced in these bags is exceptionally dense. Now, not only does Koos have a steady supply of fresh, organic produce, but his confidence as a gardener is growing as well. Next, he would like to start a worm farm utilizing garden and kitchen waste to feed the worms and produce his own vermicompost. We're very impressed!

Some feedback from other Seeds for Life home farmers:

Michael really appreciates the seeds and says having a garden to look after is a welcome distraction from the stresses of unemployment and COVID. It is giving him hope and something positive to do.

Fikile, who works at a daycare center in an under-resourced community, appreciates getting free seeds, There are 28 kids to feed at the center and sometimes she runs out of vegetables. But now that she has received seeds, she is looking forward to harvesting vegetables from her own garden to share with the children and their families at the center.

When INMED South Africa approached Bosisiwe about planting a garden, she said it was high time to use the space behind her home to plant vegetables. Getting INMED's seeds, compost and training have provided the resources and inspiration for her to finally do it. 

Mahlatse lives in a very small dwelling in Johannesburg and assumed she didn't have enough space to ever plant a garden. Our adaptive agriculture experts at INMED South Africa showed her a variety of ways to plant container gardens with unused or old items, such as tires and large water bottles. She's very excited to receive the seeds, training and resources to grow her own vegetables.

Tema, who also lives in Johannesburg, has always wanted seeds to start a garden but couldn't afford them. Our Seeds for Life project not only brightened her day, but also will strengthen her food security and access to fresh, nutritious produce. 

Next Up: Seeds for Life Stokvels

As a traditional, non-commercial form of collective saving, stokvels have been an effective means of financial empowerment in South Africa. They typically comprise 12 or more members, who pool regular monetary contributions in exchange for each taking a turn of receiving a once-off payment. The stokvel model can be applied to a variety of endeavors, even gardening.

Establishing and supporting Seeds for Life stokvel groups in under-resourced communities will promote and encourage gardening--especially food gardens. INMED South Africa will provide training, instructional materials, seasonal seeds, seedling trays and compost to help get them started. Once the gardens begin to flourish, members of the stokvels can share their own seeds, seedlings, compost, harvests and lessons learned with each other. It's a great way to not only spread the joy of home gardening but also help members to build strong support networks and friendships. 

Stay tuned for more details in our next report. Please also help us expand the impact of our Seeds for Life project by becoming a recurring donor. Thank you for being a champion for change in vulnerable communities!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael's garden is helping him cope with stress
Michael's garden is helping him cope with stress
Fikile is using her garden to feed hungry kids
Fikile is using her garden to feed hungry kids
Bosisiwe is finally making good use of her yard
Bosisiwe is finally making good use of her yard
Mahlatse is learning to garden in small spaces
Mahlatse is learning to garden in small spaces
Tema is thrilled to have seeds she couldn't afford
Tema is thrilled to have seeds she couldn't afford

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Zandile now has food for her family
Zandile now has food for her family

INMED South Africa's Seeds for Life Project Reaps Big Impacts So Far

August 2020 – November 2020

 Just four months into this project, INMED South Africa has helped 519 people strengthen their food security by planting backyard gardens in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg. Nearly 40% of the households served reported family members experiencing anxiety over not having enough to eat, especially during this time of global pandemic.

 Seeds for Life is a project on INMED South Africa’s Health in Action program, which teaches children about the importance of nutrition, physical activity and healthy lifestyles through engaging hands-on, skills-based activities. A key component of Health in Action is the development of school gardens, which are used as teaching tools as well as sources of fresh produce for school meals. INMED South Africa and its partners supply the materials for the gardens as well as training for school food handlers, teachers, administrators and community members. Seeds for Life is expanding this approach to distressed communities to strengthen food security and income generation opportunities.

 First Phase a Success

In this first project phase, each household received a free package of several varieties of seeds to plant a seasonally appropriate garden, along with hands-on training and informational pamphlets on how to properly start and maintain a garden—even in tight spaces. The ripple effects are already extending beyond just the project participants, as their crops are feeding neighbors in need and providing income for some entrepreneurial gardeners who are selling their crops to the community.

INMED’s master gardeners have been making regular visits to check on the participants’ progress and assist with advice where needed. Challenges experienced by a number of households included birds eating their seedlings, poor soil, scarcity of consistent water supply for the gardens and pests. In spite of these challenges, the home gardeners are succeeding and are very pleased to share how well their gardens are growing.

A Few Words from the Home Gardeners 

Zandile is a first-time gardener who is eager to learn and to provide a steady supply of food for her family. With INMED’s help, her gardening skills have improved dramatically, and she has harvested numerous large bundles of spinach, as well as bumper crops of tomatoes. Zandile says she is thankful for the gardening lessons and seeds, because now she can make something to eat without even thinking twice about how she will get the food. She also is enjoying cooking her food from stratch. 

Cecelia  lives with her granddaughter in an urban community of Port Elizabeth. She is 64 years old and has suffered a lot during the COVID pandemic. Ceceilia says INMED South Africa’s Seeds for Life project has helped improve her health. She eats greens from her garden every day, as well as turnips and other vegetables. She says that eating her vegetables raw helps to control her high blood pressure. She is very grateful for the gift of her own garden.

Mirriam lives in the urban township of Soweto in Johannesburg. She reported that within two months of receiving INMED’s free seeds, compost and training, she was harvesting crops two times a week. She sells vegetables from her garden for extra income, some of which she uses to buy ingredients to bake bread for neighbors in need as well as her church.

 INMED South Africa’s Seeds for Life project has inspired Lungelwa to pursue a new career in farming. With INMED’s free seeds and training, she has developed a stunning home garden, and she is passionate about her crops. “I am very grateful to INMED South Africa for providing me with seeds, because I did not have money to buy them” she says. “One day, I wish to be the supplier of commercial markets and have enough land to farm.”

Petrus’ Seeds for Life garden has been so prolific that it not only feeds his family but has become a source of income. He has been selling spinach, beetroot, carrots, turnips, tomatoes and onions to to his community of Motherwell in Port Elizabeth.                 

Lesidi is an elder pensioner in Zwide, Port Elizabeth, who struggles to stretch her fixed income to cover all her needs. She has long wanted to plant a garden, but didn’t have the money for seeds. With INMED’s free seeds and training, Lesidi’s garden not only provides fresh, nutritious food, but also a sense of purpose. She says she now spends a lot of her time in her garden, and it gives her great pride.

Sarah lives in Kwazakhele in port Elizabeth, where she struggles to make ends meet. She has long wanted to start a garden, but didn’t have enough money to buy seeds. With Seeds for Life, she has food security and potential source of income, as fresh produce is in short supply and prohibitively expensive for most families in this township.

 We thank all the generous donors who have supported this project so far. As you can see, it is already generating a positive domino effect in vulnerable communities. Our team at South Africa would like to expand this project to more households in 2021. If you are encouraged by what you’ve read in this report, please consider becoming a recurring donor and sharing this project with your family, friends and colleagues.

Ceceila says raw veg helps her blood pressure
Ceceila says raw veg helps her blood pressure
Mirriam sells her crops to help her neighbors
Mirriam sells her crops to help her neighbors
Lungelwa is inspired to become a farmer
Lungelwa is inspired to become a farmer
Petrus' garden is generating income
Petrus' garden is generating income
Lesidi's garden gives her a sense of purpose
Lesidi's garden gives her a sense of purpose
Sarah now has food security in Soweto
Sarah now has food security in Soweto

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Organization Information

INMED Partnerships for Children, Inc.

Location: Sterling, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @inmedchildren
Project Leader:
Janet Ogilvie
Sterling, VA United States
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